Why complexity needs the opposite of normal

4-6 October 2017

John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh

A 30 minute Case Study by:

Kim Ballestrin


About this Case Study

We can argue that complexity is the new normal – although, for those of us familiar and comfortable with the Cynefin Framework, we understand that real life contains a blend of the obvious, complicated, complex and chaotic. There are things that have a high level of certainty and predictability and things that have a low level of certainty and predictability.

The aim of this session is to present the experiences of a person (me) who has progressed from delivering large programmes of work using tailored waterfall delivery methods to being very comfortable with ambiguity and the broader lean/agile principles.

It struck me, from my first introduction to agile, how ‘opposite’ some of these ideas appeared and it wasn’t until I came across the Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden that I started to understand why that was OK.

This session is aimed at people who are introducing lean/agile concepts to the workplace or adding to continuous improvement efforts with new ideas from conferences such as Lean Agile Scotland.

Participants will learn:

  • why traditional business case processes are still effective for highly predictable projects, and lean startup/design thinking and other exploratory approaches are better where there is a low level of certainty
  • that the importance of acknowledging that ‘we’ve always done it this way’ can still be relevant in certain contexts
  • how to move the conversation about new ideas from confrontational to collaborative and context-sensitive to gain better buy-in from colleagues
  • how to use the Cynefin Framework to explain the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches

About the Speaker

Kim Ballestrin is a passionate and highly skilled principal consultant at Elabor8 working on the agile transformations of large enterprises.

She has over 20 years of diverse management (IT) experience, helping some of Australia’s most prominent organisations on their agile change journey.

Kim is an experienced technologist, having worked in roles from IT business analyst through to programme and delivery centre management. She specialises in lean, Cynefin, agile, systems thinking, design thinking, DevOps and ways of improving how companies work and deliver value to customers.

Currently the organiser of the Melbourne Cynefin and Lean Coffee Meetups, Kim regularly presents and runs workshops at leading local and international conferences on the Cynefin Framework, decision mapping and early idea feasibility.


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